The Value and Costs of Jaguars to Peasant Households

Alejandro Bellon

The municipality of Marques de Comillas, bordering the Montes Azules Biosphere reserve, is an important area for jaguar conservation. This conservation requires the participation of the people living in local communities. The aim of the project is to understand the impact jaguars and pumas have on these people with a focus on the impact jaguars and pumas have on local livelihoods. Livelihoods in the area depend on a mix of activities such as raising livestock, poultry, and agriculture. Some of these activities are done so that people can make money, while others can be done for self-consumption. Jaguars and pumas may affect these different activities in different ways. These large carnivores can kill local livestock and negatively impact livelihoods, but they also can control the populations of other wild animals that damage livelihoods such as species that raid people’s crops. Therefore, depending on what the future of jaguar populations looks like, local people could face different worlds with different costs and risks to their livelihoods.

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This project will use focus groups and surveys to understand how local people would value different states of the world resulting from different future jaguar populations. This information is important so as to aim for a future where local people and wildlife can coexist.

In carrying out the work, the impacts on people of different types of human wildlife conflict will be identified. An important aim of this project is to see if the monetary value of losses as determined in local markets is a good estimate of the scale of the impact on a local household. Another aim of the project is to understand what benefits would have to look like for local people to be willing to accept some of the costs of wildlife conservation. More broadly, the project hopes to better understand the services and costs those large carnivores, such as jaguars and pumas, can provide to small scale farmers.

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